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Ramaphosa hails signing of Lesotho reform MOU as milestone

President Cyril Ramaphosa met with stakeholders, including political parties, NGOs and traditional leaders.

President Cyril Ramaphosa met with Lesotho’s Prime Minister Tom Thabane on 4 July 2019. Picture: @PresidencyZA/Twitter

MASERU – President Cyril Ramaphosa has witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding that will pave the way for establishing the Lesotho reforms authority.

He was in the Lesotho capital Maseru on Thursday accompanied by a high-powered security delegation.

He calls this a milestone of a process he began in 2014.

President Ramaphosa met with stakeholders, including political parties, NGOs and traditional leaders.

But the highlight was the signing of an agreement for parliament to be opened on 5 August and prioritise reforms.

“All of them unanimously agreed that there should be legislation that is passed in parliament that’s going to lead to the establishment of a national reform authority.”

Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane says this is proof that Southern African Development Community member states can assist each other for peace and stability

“We have now, for the first time, localised solutions to our own problems as citizens of this part of Africa.”

Asked if they will hold off on a motion of no confidence in Thabane, opposition parties say they will prioritise reforms but they won’t guarantee that the vote will not go ahead.

WATCH: Our problems have become yesterday's tale, says Lesotho PM Tom Thabane

TRUTH COMMISSION

Lesotho's King Letsie III’s brother, Prince Seeiso, said the most important way for Lesotho to move forward was through reconciliation.

Prince Seeiso was among those who met Ramaphosa on his visit to the Mountain Kingdom on Thursday. He said he acknowledged that people had been hurt, but dwelling on the past would keep the country in crisis.

The straight-talking prince was the first member of the royal family to condemn government regulations that had forced wool farmers export through a Chinese-run broker.

He met Ramaphosa on the ongoing political crisis and reforms, and he called on leaders to let bygones be bygones.

“Every time we talk about going forward, we must talk about the politics of the 1950s, 1970, and 1975 – we will not move forward because we keep on looking back. What have we learned about the mistakes that they made? So, we have to make peace with our history and move forward.”

Prince Seeiso said a truth and reconciliation process was one of the ways to work towards lasting peace in Lesotho.

The agreement was brokered by retired deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke on the behalf of the president, who is the SADC facilitator for Lesotho.

But the opposition was not making guarantees about the motion of no confidence in Prime Minister Tom Thabane.

Thabane said Ramaphosa’s successful mediation in Lesotho was an indication that the SADC region was capable of resolving its challenges.

He said he was excited by the progress.

“To sort out problems that were beginning to look unattainable and problems that were beginning to look as though there was something worth [not] celebrating. Those problems have through the diplomacy and the ability of President Ramaphosa to be solved.”

Meanwhile, the leader of opposition in Parliament Mathibeli Mokhothu said they would adhere to SADC conditions for the reforms to be concluded.

“The motion of no will be there in Parliament, but the order is the enactment of these structures pertaining to the reforms, but we cannot hold the country as a democracy at ransom because of reforms.

“The entire Constitution has to be changed because it allows the depoliticisation of public service and the appointment of statutory positions,” Mokhothu said.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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